Sleep Soundly and Lose Fat
If there is one thing we don’t do enough these days, it’s sleep. On average our sleep has dropped by around 1.5 hours per day from 8 hours to around 6.5 hours, so how does this effect fat loss?
Our body is designed to sleep around 37% of our life. Anything that the body dedicates 37% of its time to has to be important, thus we should respect the effect poor sleep quality or inadequate sleep can have on our health.
What happens when we sleep?
To date there is still a mystery behind exactly why we sleep, however some links have been made that support the importance of sleep.
- During sleep specific genes are turned on relating to restoration and rebuilding.
- Sleep has a significant effect on brain processing and learning.
- Sleep supports memory function.
- Sleep supports problem solving and creativity.
What happens if I have poor sleep?
Interestingly if you focus on what happens when we do not sleep you start to uncover the physiological importance of sleep for both health and body composition. Negative effects on physiology include.
- Decrease in growth hormone (a hormone crucial for mass development and fat loss).
- Reduced thyroid stimulating hormone (a hormone that stimulates the thyroid to make thyroid hormone, crucial for fat loss).
- Increased evening cortisol levels (a stress hormone linked with abdominal obesity).
- Lowered leptin (a hormone that helps regulate appetite).
- Increased insulin resistance (ability to get glucose from the blood to the cell for energy metabolism) – studies have demonstrated only 6 days of less than 4 hours sleep per night induces insulin resistance equal to that of a 70 year old pre-diabetic.
- Increases ghrelin (a hormone that increases the want for food and in particular carbohydrates. Couple that with insulin resistance and you have a recipe for fat gain).
- Poor sleep and high stress appears to negatively impact the immune system and can lead to an increase in recurrent infections. Commonly this can impact someone’s ability to exercise and stay active.
6 Tips to improve your sleep health
- Adapt your evening routine to help lower stress hormone levels, read here for 3 evening routine ideas.
- Go to bed and get up around the same time every day, even weekends!
- Don’t be scared of good carbs in your evening meal.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day, and avoid drinking all your fluids just before bed.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine after 2pm.
- Avoid alcohol as a way of inducing sleep. Alcohol will help sedate the body but may still lead to poor quality sleep.